Konstantinos Gavras, better known as Costa-Gavras, is a Franco-Greek director, screenwriter and producer. He was born in 1933 in the region of Arcadia in Greece and moved to Athens after the Second World War. His father was a member of the Greek resistance during the War. Because of the latter’s communist political convictions, Costa-Gavras isn’t allowed to study in Greece. He emigrated to France in 1951 and arrived in Paris in 1955 to study literature at the Sorbonne. As a frequent visitor to the Cinémathèque, he enrols at IDHEC in 1956 and discovers film sets as assistant to some of the biggest names of French cinema: René Clair, René Clément, Jacques Demy, Henri Verneuil, Jean Becker, Jean Giono. . In 1965, he directed his powerful first feature, The Sleeping Car Murders, and followed up with critically acclaimed international successes, including Z (1969 – Jury Prize in Cannes & Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film), Special Section (1975 – Best Director in Cannes), Missing (1982 – Palme d’Or in Cannes & Oscar for the Best Adapted Screenplay), Music Box (1989 – Golden Bear at the Berlinale), and Amen (2002 – César for the Best Screenplay). Overall, he directed 20 feature films that did not only change cinema and our way of seeing the world, but also never shied away from denouncing injustices. His latest feature, Adults in the Room (2019) is an adaptation of the eponymous book by the former Greek Minister of Finance, Yanis Varoufakis. In 1982, Costa-Gavras is nominated president of the Cinémathèque Française, a position he occupies until 1987, and again since 2007.
As a tireless defender of human rights, Costa-Gravas is particularly well-known to have used film to explain political issues. His work is characterised by reflections on power, law and justice, oppression, violence and torture. For the most part, his films dealt with centre-right movements and regimes, including Greek conservatives inside and outside the army in Z, while State of Siege (1972) and Missing dealt with right-wing dictatorships in Latin America. In 1985, he was awarded the Spain’s Gold Medal of Merit for the Fine Arts for the entirety of his career. In 2013, he received an Honorary Magritte, as well as the Jaeger-Le Coultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award at the 76th Venice Film Festival in 2019. He is an officer of the French National Order of Merit and, since July 2019, commander of the Légion d’Honneur.